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Choosing pets over kids is 'selfish and diminishes us', says Pope Francis

Jan 6, 2022, 3:00 PM IST
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In a remark that is likely to draw backlash among pet lovers, Pope Francis has suggested that people who choose to have dogs, cats and other pets over children are selfish. The leader of the world's 1.3 billion Catholics was discussing parenthood during a general audience at the Vatican in Rome when he made this comment. 

"Today ... we see a form of selfishness. We see that some people do not want to have a child. Sometimes they have one, and that's it, but they have dogs and cats that take the place of children. This may make people laugh, but it is a reality," the Pope remarked.

Pope Francis said that the practice is a denial of fatherhood and motherhood, adding that this diminishes us and takes away our humanity.

While stating that couples who are unable to have children for biological reasons could consider adoption, Pope Francis urged potential parents to not be afraid of embarking on the journey of parenthood. The Pope also remarked that having a kid is always a risk, but there is more risk in not having a child.

Pope Francis also commented about a 'demographic winter', possibly hinting at countries with declining birth rates, in which people do not want to have kids, or just one and no more."

This is not the first time Pope Francis has taken a dig at people who choose pets over having children. In 2014, he had said that having pets instead of children was "another phenomenon of cultural degradation", adding that emotional relationships with pets were "easier" than the "complex" relationship between parents and children.

The 85-year-old Pope has in the past been photographed petting animals ranging from dogs to panthers but is said not to have a personal pet. In his 2015 visit to the United States, dog owners had dressed their pets in canine papal outfits and posted on Instagram with the hashtag #popedog.

Also read: COVID-19 vaccine should be shared across the world, says Pope Francis